Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn.

No. 3.]

Sir: I address to you, on the eve of your intended departure, my replies to the recent despatches of Mr. Harris, for the reason that he is expected to take his leave of the Tycoon as soon as you shall have arrived at Yedo.

Mr. Harris’s despatch of July 12 (No. 30) is before me. It communicates a conversation which he had just before held with the minister for foreign affairs of the Tycoon on the subject of the outrages which had been recently committed by some of his subjects against the British legation at Yedo. At this distance no reliable opinion can be formed concerning the good faith of the government of Japan in the explanations made on that occasion. I learn from sources outside of the despatch itself that the British government is not satisfied upon the point thus raised. It must be left largely to your discretion to determine the matter for yourself, and to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction to the Japanese government as you shall decide to be just and wise.

I notice in Mr. Harris’s despatch some ground for supposing that a good understanding does not exist between him and Mr. Alcock, the British minister in Yedo. I forbear from judging upon the causes of the alienation, although we have abundant reason for believing Mr. Harris to be always just and prudent in his intercourse with the representatives of the other western powers.

At the same time I cannot too earnestly enjoin upon you the duty of cultivating the best possible understanding with those representatives, and of doing all in your power to maintain harmony of views and policy between them and yourself, because very large interests, not of our own country only, but of the civilized world, are involved in retaining the foothold of foreign nations already acquired in the empire of Japan.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Robert H. Pruyn, Esq., &c., &c., &c.